ATO Discloses Australia’s Largest Tax-Evading Industries

The “shadow economy” is still very much alive and well during the pandemic, according to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), which has identified the industries it is keeping an eye on. The term “shadow economy” (formerly “black economy”) describes economic operations that don’t fall under the purview of the tax and other regulatory systems. These activities frequently involve demanding cash payments, paying employees in cash, or not disclosing all sales. According to the ATO, the shadow economy causes the society to lose out on almost $11 billion in taxes each year.

Building and construction, hair and beauty services, cafes and restaurants, road freight transport, and management advice and related consulting services topped the list of industries the ATO received tips on in the previous year. Victoria (more than 11,500) and Queensland (more than 13,400) were the states with the greatest tip-offs (more than 9200). According to ATO Assistant Commissioner Peter Holt, tip-offs helped the ATO expose tax evasion and defend honorable companies.

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“For some businesses, the past couple of years have been challenging. However, this does not excuse gaining an unfair edge over law-abiding, honorable enterprises, according to ATO associate commissioner Peter Holt. “It is more crucial than ever to protect the vast majority of firms who are honest and make an effort to do the right thing as they recover from the effects of COVID and natural disasters.” And the ATO is keeping an eye on more than just businesses.

Holt added, “We know that many workers are demanding cash especially when there is a lack of labour. We also know that many customers are demanding cash and asking for discounts to avoid paying tax.”
“We receive tips from other companies, clients, the general public, and even staff. The increase in tips indicates that the neighbor hood is no longer willing to overlook this behavior.

Sydney provided the most tip-offs, more than 6500 in total. But 7000 also came from places other than the big cities. The Sunshine Coast Hinterland, Cairns, Wellington in NSW, Wodonga in Victoria, and the Mornington Peninsula were the top five regional areas from which the ATO got tips in 2021–2022. According to the ATO, there are some “tell-tale signs” that a company may be operating in the shadow economy, including “cash only” signs, discounts offered for cash, a refusal to accept credit cards, a failure to give employees pay slips, a failure to ring up sales, and even the use of illicit software that deletes or modifies sales transactions. Tips can be submitted online at this page, through the ATO app, or by calling 1800 060 062. Every tip is confidential, and you can maintain your anonymity.

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